By Jon Roe
For a season that was in danger of not happening, the Dinos men’s soccer team is off to a good start. After a weekend trip to B.C., the Dinos are 1-1-0.
In April, Dinos Athletics announced that they would no longer be funding the men’s soccer and field hockey programs. After some fundraising efforts by the teams and support from Dino alumni, both squads secured funding for the upcoming year and will continue competing at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport level.
Saturday, the men’s soccer team lost a 2-0 decision against the University of Victoria Vikes, who placed fourth at nationals the season prior and are the defending Canada West champions, and then followed with a 2-1 victory over the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades on Sunday.
Last year, the Dinos lost both games of their opening road trip in B.C., including one against the Cascades. It would take the Dinos eight games to get their first win, a 4-0 demolition of the only team to finish lower than them in the standings in 2008, the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns. The Dinos would finish the year with a 2-8-4 record, their worst season since they finished 2-8-0 in 1999.
The team was starved for offence in 2008, scoring only 17 goals all year, led by Alex Hanne’s three markers. But the Dinos only allowed 21, fifth in the conference and ahead of the University of Alberta Golden Bears, who qualified for the four-team playoffs. Goaltender JP Crescenzi, a Canada West all-star in 2006 who returns for his fourth year with the team, was second in the conference last year with five saves per game.
This is the Dinos first season under head coach Ken Price, who took over on a volunteer basis after the squad righted the funding ship. Andy Gibbs, who coached the team for 22 seasons, resigned in the off-season.
The team won’t have much time to soak in the recent pleasant Calgary weather as they return to the west coast for two matches against a couple of top teams in the Trinity Western University Spartans and the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. The Spartans took both matches from the Dinos last year and went on to a silver-finish in the conference championships after a 4-1 loss to the Vikes. The T-Birds were second after the regular season last year, but lost in the opening round of the conference championships to the Spartans.
The Spartans are currently ranked third nationally after a 1-0-1 opening weekend against the Bears and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. The T-Birds dropped both games on their road trip against the same teams.
The Dinos’ home opener is against the Huskies on Sept. 26.